Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Kyoto’s space needle

Tawawa-chan is the mascot of the Kyoto Tower you can buy just about anything with this little guy on it or even have your photo taken with him at the tower. The Kyoto Tower itself is an interesting structure standing 131 metres high and on top of a 9 story building. The building is home to a hotel and some shopping including a great 100 yen store. The tower is located right across the road from Kyoto Station and offers some pretty good views of the surroundings including the nearby temples, city centre and mountains of Higashiyama and Arashiyama. The tower was built to open for the 1964 Olympic Games which were in Tokyo hoping to gain some tourism to the city. There was a lot of controversy at the time building the tower in such a beautiful and ancient city but people have got used to it over the years and it has become a much loved part of Kyoto. For more Japan travel tips visit www.happyjappy.com

J Town SFO

San Francisco is known around the world for its fantastic China Town but not many people are aware of its Japan Town which is just as fascinating and a great place to visit.  The whole precinct makes you feel like you are in Japan, the paving the landscaping and even the architecture is very Japanese.  The precinct centres on a large shopping and exhibition plaza which is full of Japanese stores, from nick knacks, clothing, music and DVD and plenty of eateries.  The food is sensational, whether you want a simple piece of sushi or a full Teppanyaki experience. The area has a huge five tiered pagoda which although made of concrete is pretty impressive.  Like Japan the area is very popular during the cherry blossom season when the whole area comes alive with blossoms.

Hotel suite not much bigger than a coffin


Well today’s story can only come from the world of weird and whacky- Japan. Well there’s certainly no mini bar or luxurious queen bed on this unique style of hotel. It’s the capsule hotel and they are found all over the big Japanese cities usually around the train stations and cater primarily for businessman who have had that one (or several) too many beers after work and missed the the last train home or can’t quiet face the wife and kids. The capsule hotel are a communal collection of small plastic cells about two feet wide and high and around six foot long. They have a mattress, a pillow and some linen,  sometimes a small TV and DVD player and not much else. The capsule hotels usually feature community rooms where men can carry on the celebration with a few more beers or even a meal usually from a vending machine.  Sometimes the lodger can even relax in a sauna, spa or even take a massage. Costs are usually around the 20-40 dollars a mark night and payments are often made by vending machine. The facility also offer communal showers and bathrooms and many even sell pajamas or other forms of sleepwear.  Being a cheap accommodation option in the huge citys like Tokyo and Osaka sometimes they become home. People who are working in low paying jobs have been known to have extended stays in the hotels and call them home.  The capsule hotel isn’t the most private or luxurious accommodation you will find in Japan but no one can disagree about it being one of the more unique and cheapest.

NHK Studio Park

nhk

We are live bloging from Tokyo this week and one of the first stops on our trip is NHK Studio Park. If you don’t know NHK it is one of Japan’s largest TV broadcasters and studio park is a small theme park attached to their Shibuya studios. Situated on the edge of Shibya’s shopping district Studio Park is more set up for the Japanese tourist as their is not too much English displays around the tour, despite this the place is very amusing on a whole different level if you don’t know a word of Japanese as the place is filled with crazy cartoon characters you may have never seen before. We did studio park in under an hour but our main We are live bloging from Tokyo this week and one of the first stops on our trip is NHK Studio Park. If you don’t know NHK it is one of japan’s largest TV broadcasters and studio park is a small theme park attached to their Shibuya studios. Situated on the edge of Shibya’s shopping district Studio Park is more set up for the Japanese tourist as their is not too much English displays around the tour, despite this the place is very amusing on a whole different level if you don’t know a word of Japanese as the place is filled with crazy cartoon characters you may have never seen before. We did studio park in under an hour but it was late in the day with very few people there and our main motive of the visit was to buy a domo kun stuffed toy at their gift shop. Entry costs 200 yen for adults (around 2 dollars) and there is also a shuttle bus back to Shibuya station. Read the rest of this entry »

Tokyo Week – Mirakan – Emerging Science Museum

robot
In the futuristic city of Odaiba across the Rainbow Bridge you will find the Mirakan or Emerging Science Museum. This interesting technology museum features some pretty incredible advances in science including their star exhibit Asimo, Honda’s humanoid robot. Asimo isn’t the only robot on display there are quiet a few including Mesci which can even guide people around the facility. Although most of the exhibits are in Japanese and very little English translations the exhibition Is easily understood by non Japanese speaking people with plenty of easy to understand displays and diagrams. Some of the exhibits include space travel including full size mock up of sections of the International Space Station, nano technology, health and transportation. The bullet train technology features heavily in the transport section with plenty of models and interactive displays for people of all ages to learn about emerging technologies and see what is in future in year to come.

Tokyo Week – Under the sea at Disney

shibia

We have written a few stories about Disney Sea in Tokyo on Tripandom, and reckon it is the best of the Disney Parks we have visited. There are some great attractions similar to the ones in the US, Paris and Hong Kong like the Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the like but the park has some great attractions not seen anywhere else including the incredible Journey to the centre of the earth attraction inside the towering Mount Prometheus Volcano. The Arabian Coast is a favorite especially with the young with Aladdin, Genie and the Princess all staring with the pirates and thieves of the seas. Mermaid Lagoon is loved especially with the young, where they get their chance to meet Arial and her friend from the smash hit Little Mermaid. The amazing fireworks, water and fire show BraviSeamo would have to be the most adventurous and spectacular show ever undertaken by the Disney parks it is just breath taking and an incredible way to finish the day.

Tokyo Week – Shibua ‘s crazy intersection

shibia

One of the more popular tourist photos of Tokyo is the Shibuya intersection which is beside the busy Shibuya Railway station which sees 2.4 million Tokyoites use it ever day. The intersection is known as Center Gal and has is used regally in films and advertisements. The surrounding shops are covered in huge video walls and neon and is quiet spectacular day or night. Four roads intercept into a huge zebra crossing. Cars at all sides of the intersection stop when the lights go red to allow thousand of people to cross the road in every direction at once. It’s quite an adventure for those new to Tokyo. Hawkers and promotion staff offer free advertising merchandise like tissues or paper fans, the video screens pump out throbbing J-Pop and high pitched girls sreech and spruke products. The experience is electrifying but attacks all your senses at once and first visit is sure to disorientate.

Tokyo Week – Gadgets and Gizmos

usb-sushi

Electronics town or Akihabara in Tokyo is absolute overload for every gizmo and gadget known to man. The whole suburb is jam packed with the latest phones, mp3 players, cameras laptops and gaming device. There is shop after shop of everything electrical. Mixed in with a magna comic precinct Akihabara is a buzz with youth especially on Sundays when they close many of the streets off to traffic to make way for the tens of thousands who flock to the stores in search of the latest must have device. The range is staggering and the prices good too- most prices are labeled with the real price so there’s no painstaking bargaining required- just look at the product and decide if you want it or not. Recently huge mega marts like Yodobashi Camera Co have opened up in Akihabara offering six and seven floors of shopping for electronics some of the stores boast nearly half a million items on sale- its staggering and with so much choice soon numbs the senses and confuses you even more.

Tokyo Week – Glitz and Glamour of Ginza

ginza

For luxury shopping New York has its 5th Avenue, London has Oxford Street, Paris has Champs Elysees and Tokyo has Ginza. Ginza is a glitzy shopping precinct is full of some of the most up market department stores, boutiques and restaurants in Japan. There are all the big brands Gucci, Apple, Sony, Swarovski, Armani, Vuitton, you name it even Nissan has a boutique selling cars. The intersection of Chuo Dori and Harumi Dori is the place to be, it is the prime of the Ginza real estate. The corner is houses some of the world’s biggest LED video screens advertising the big brands from beer, electronics, cars, fashion and cosmetics. The intersection is also home to the Sanai Building which has floor anon floor of glitzy shopping all behind a huge glass cylinder. Over the road the Wako Department Store is well renowned for its luxury goods including jewelry and porcelain. While Mikimoto Ginza 2 is world famous for its century of pearl trading. For food lovers, a visit to the huge food basement at the Mitsukoshi Department Store is a must with hundreds of stalls selling the most delicious and decorative Japanese snacks and foods.

Fuji TV Tokyo

fuji

Tokyo’s Odaiba has some pretty interesting futuristic architecture and the Fuji Television building is one of the more out there which its strange grid like structure and huge golden ball lookout. The building is both offices and studios for many of Japan’s favourite television programs, one being the Iron Chef which was filmed there during the 1990’s in their Kitchen Stadium. The building was designed by Kenzo Tange who is responsible for some other interesting architecture including the Tokyo Metropolitan Offices, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the American Medical Association Headquarters Building in Chicago. The Fuji building is open to the public, visitors can go on a Japanese speaking studio tour- which can be quiet fun as some of the Japanese live television is crazy. The big golden ball is a Chinese restaurant which although fairly expensive is very popular, the ball has a viewing platform too, which costs about Y500 which is about 5 bucks for a visit and spectacular view over the Tokyo harbour.